Article of the Month

April 2014

"Resurection:" The Television Program

 

Because a new ABC television series entitled “Resurrection” obviously is dealing with a subject that is Biblical, it seems appropriate that we note its peculiarities.

From the outset, it is important to know that this review is being written after only one episode of the program. Later programs may yet add to the positive and negative items we could discuss. What we do want to accomplish with this article is to assess what we have seen in the light of Biblical teachings on the matter.

— The Amazing Positives —

Since most persons’ conceptions of resurrection are so contrary to what this program suggests, we want to give Scriptural kudos to three of the concepts presented in the first episode.

First, the two individuals brought back from the dead in episode one, were, indeed, brought back. Their awakenings were not in heaven — not in the spiritual realm — but right here on planet earth. We do not want to suggest that all humans will experience this kind of “on earth” awakening, but we do believe that this will be the experience of the vast majority of mankind. After all, when Christians pray “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done in earth” (Matthew 6:10), they are praying for something that will happen.

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Only as an aside will we mention that a small minority of humans will not have an earthly resurrection. In I Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul is speaking of the resurrection of “the Church” — Christ’s “body,” the “Little Flock” of faithful ones who will receive something special called “The First Resurrection” (Luke 12:32; Revelation 20:6). Paul shows that these individuals will have a new, spiritual (not human) nature. In verse 15:40 he compares terrestrial (earthly) with celestial (heavenly). He shows that these special individuals start out as humans, but end up as spirit beings (15:44, 46, 48, 49, 50) — that these individuals “shall all be CHANGED” (15:51).

In Hebrews 11:35, 39, 40, the Apostle points out that the faithful of the Old Testament receive “a better resurrection.” It is better than the majority of mankind in that the Old Testament faithful will be made “PRINCES in all the earth (Psalm 45:16); but it is not better than the spiritual resurrection to be received by the faithful of New Testament times.  Thus the Apostle stipulates in Hebrews 11:40 that God has “provided some better thing for us (the first resurrection) that they (the Old Testament heroes of faith) without us SHOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT.”

In harmony with this, Jesus, himself, stipulated that John the Baptist was among the greatest men that ever lived; nevertheless, those who go to heaven (because of the nature of their resurrection) will be greater than John (who clearly does not go to heaven. (Matthew 11:11)

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So, our first praise for this television event is that it portrays an earthly resurrection even though that is a thought foreign to most people.

Secondly, it is clear that the awakened child in this program had absolutely no memory of anything between the event of his dying and the event of his awakening. This is a delight to hear; but it is not the prevailing thought among most people who think that “something” goes on living when we die. But Solomon (in Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) confirms the truth reflected in this television event. He writes, “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything.” He also writes, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.” The prophet David confirms this in Psalm 146:4 where he writes, “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

The words “immortal soul” never occur in the Bible. On this matter, the television program has it right. The Bible clearly teaches that souls die. (Ezekiel 18:20)

Thirdly, the program represents returning people as coming back at the age-likeness at which they died.  This is reasonable since an individual would not recognize himself, nor would his family and acquaintances, if he returned in a body inconsistent with his death age.

The Bible is only suggestive relative to this question. In Ecclesiastes 11:3, the wise man states that “If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there shall it be.” One might easily wonder what this has to do with our subject. However, it is clear that this statement would be so obvious that it would be inane and unworthy of inclusion in the Holy Word. Thus it must have a wider significance than its surface simplicity.

People sometimes are symbolized by trees in Scripture.  (E.g., Mark 8:24; Jude 12) Therefore, this Ecclesiastes text is suggestive that when people die, they do not change. They remain “in the place” (in the condition of existence) they were until they change subsequent to awakening. Job 33:25 substantiates this concept by saying, “His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth.”

Hence we can expect that people when they return will basically be what they were when they died (minus disease or disfigurement) and will then gradually progress to an age (older or younger) representing the vigor of a mature young person.

So, we give praise to three concepts thus far seen in this television series:

(1) Resurrection will have humans awakening on earth as humans.

(2) Death stops all consciousness. There will absolutely be no knowledge of the time intervening between death and awakening.

(3) Individuals will awaken at the same chronological age they were when they died.

This takes us to

— Friendly Criticism —

The “Resurrection” program has intimations in it that the world will be unchanged when awakening begins. Any number of scriptures contradict this thought. Psalm 46:9, 10 is one example. It reads:

“He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.”

Without making this short article cumbersome with many detailed scriptures, suffice it to say that the Psalm sets the stage for resurrection to begin.  It will not begin before the world has been forced into the beginnings of peace and of acknowledgement of God.

The television program has the world totally unprepared for the resurrection process.  It will not be that way, according to the Scriptures.

Another flaw in the program’s concepts seems to be that awakening happens in unknown surroundings. The poor child died in Missouri, but awakens in a Chinese rice paddy! God will not awaken people only to find themselves totally without support!

When Jesus raised Lazarus, it was a picture of what would be happening in the earthly kingdom. (See John 11:1-44.) When Martha said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” Jesus was giving an EXAMPLE of what to expect at the last day. (He was teaching other things, too; but this was one of the objectives of this miracle.)

What happened? Lazarus wasn’t raised in Germany! He awoke in the midst of those who knew and loved him. Thus it will be for all. At such a moment, support and explanations will be imperative!

Another flaw with the presentation was that the child, Jacob, apparently suffered convulsions. People will not be raised to experience the same old maladies of the old world. They will come back “whole” — not incapacitated except for the immature and flawed thought processes remaining in their minds the day they died. The kingdom will be to RESTORE, not to plague with old diseases. (Acts 3:20, 21)

We are not trying to denigrate the program. We only mention these items because, in the midst of some marvelously accurate and long-lost truths, the little errors should not make the truths lesser.

— The Question of Future Deceptions —

Finally, we must mention a caution. The Scriptures abound with warnings of end-of-the-age delusions. They warn of the labors of fallen unseen spirit beings using their final opportunities to delude men by fantastic displays of wonderful things.

Matthew 24:24 suggests “great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive even the elect.”

II Thessalonians 2:9, 10 warns of “the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

Revelation 16:14 warns of “the spirits of devils, working miracles.”

These three texts only sample the prophetic thrust suggesting that pseudo-resurrections, among other things, might well occur in order to prolong the powers of Satan and his demons. Jude 6 implies that demons have been restricted to being “ghosts” or “phantoms” which could only operate in hauntings under darkness. But the teaching is that this restriction is only “until the judgment of the great day” — a day which has begun. Consequently, these beings may now have the power of materialization as they did before Noah’s flood. (Genesis 6:1-4;

II Peter 2:4, 5; I Peter 3:18-20) If they have this power they could well MIMIC a resurrection.

We would never imply evil intent on the part of the writers of the “Resurrection” series. What we would suggest is that spirit powers can use such a series in order to program the minds of the populace to expect such occurrences. And if that populace is not schooled in Scriptural nuances, they could well be duped into thinking that the long-prayed-for Kingdom has, indeed, come. They could then easily fall into following the leadings of demons to their great detriment.

We welcome the phenomenon that various of God’s truths are surfacing and old errors are being challenged and even eliminated. The return of the dead to enjoy an eternity of life and blessings on a perfected earth is a doctrine and concept which is thrilling at the very least! We await that day with great anticipation and pray for it fervently. But we also want to be cautious of any deceptions which may occur before that time.

The Apostle Paul summarized the coming day eloquently —especially in its translation by Weymouth. In Ephesians 1:8-10 we find these wonderful words:

“God’s merciful purposeful (is) for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it — the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one head in Him.”

 

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